Saturday, June 30, 2012

summer of the allergy shot :(

I just know that when Harding starts kindergarten in the fall, they will have some type of assignment where he has to write about or draw what he did all summer....Harding will probably draw himself receiving allergy shots. We decided to bite the bullet and undergo immunotherapy (shots) in hopes that he never has to endure another spring like this past one that was full of sneezing, wheezing, and oozing infected eyes. These shots are quite the commitment though. Harding has to get 28 sets of 3 shots in before he is at the maintenance stage where he only goes once every other week. That means that every weekday we are in town this summer, we go to the allergist and H gets three shots. Sounds like a kid's version of hell, right? After the first few rounds, Harding has gotten used to the routine and he has befriended every nurse and receptionist there. His favorite nurse is Katrina (pictured above), because she knows just how he likes the cold spray, then gets the bandaids ready so that they can go on immediately after he gets each shot.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Happiness = A day at the Bay

We traveled to Richmond last week for 4 days of an intense PT "bootcamp" for Shelby (which I'll post about later). But while we were up there, we were so lucky to get to spend a day at my cousin Kate's house on the Chesapeake Bay in Deltaville with her family and my brother and his wife. I have so many happy cousin and family memories from being here as a child and it was fun to add to those. This day really was great--the perfect combination of relaxation and summer fun. I think my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Thanks for hosting us Kate and Jake! Photo credits go to Kate and me....we were picture taking machines all day.

When we arrived late Friday night, Stephen and Jake were out on the dock reeling in Croaker fish right and left, which we feasted on the next night!

Shelby's first boat ride on Saturday morning--she LOVED it!

Harding got to "drive the boat" when it was tied to the dock.

Shelby and Allie Grace enjoying the water table.

Harding decided to get in on the fun mid-change.

My aunt Dearing lovin' on her babies.

Trip and Harding took a nap in the hammock.

Shelby being silly on our second boat ride.

I think Harding was begging Kate to go faster at this point.

Uncle Stephen being silly with H-man

The perfect ending to our day!

I just love this baby girl.

The actual perfect ending to our day was feasting on the crabs and fish that we caught and the shrimp that we bought!

Harding contemplating life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Three Years Old!

Though Shelby's 3rd birthday on June 5th went unmentioned here, don't think we didn't celebrate. We doted on Shelby for the whole week. In fact, Shelby is still singing happy birthday to herself and reminding anyone else that will listen that she is "three years old"! This was an especially exciting birthday for me, because Shelby was able to actually participate in eating her birthday cake. It is incredible to see how far she has progressed in eating this past year (as you can see in the video above)!

Shelby's actual birthday dinner was spent at her favorite Mexican restaurant where she ate rice, half an avocado, and refried beans. We had a small birthday party down at the pavilion in my parents' neighborhood the following Saturday and invited all of Shelby's teachers and therapists and some of her friends. We had to keep it pretty small so that Shelby wouldn't get too overwhelmed, and it turned out perfect. On the menu were her favorite foods: mac and cheese, hot dogs, and cupcakes. There were pools for the kids to splash around in and I think all the guests (young and old) had a good time helping us celebrate Shelby. More importantly, Shelby was in birthday heaven.

Shelby did not really want or need anything this year, so gifts were difficult to figure out. Her favorite birthday gift turned out to be the book Pete the Cat that her class had been reading at school. She loves singing the Pete the Cat song, "I love my white shoes" almost as much as she enjoys the happy birthday song. Check it out here if you're interested: Shelby's teacher, Ms. Tara told me that Pete the Cat reminds her a lot of Shelby and it is true. Our girl has faced more than her fair share of challenges this past year (a shunt revision, multiple doctor and therapy appointments, sedated brain scans, getting glasses, a month of intense constraint induced therapy, and regular spells of vomiting that we now know are migraines) and through it all, she just keeps going and doing her thing (while constantly singing). I need to take a page from that book!

Happy birthday to our big three-year-old girl!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Oh, this blog.... I keep falling behind on updates and meanwhile, many post-worthy events continue to occur. I know there are some great-grandparents out there that would love to read about what has been going on with the kids. Maybe Trip should help me out with keeping this blog thing going...hint hint!

The past month or so has been full of transitions. I took Harding to kindergarten registration in May and filled out paperwork while he went with a teacher to play games and be evaluated. He left excitedly with two books and a goody bag full of school supplies and told me that he wanted to start kindergarten tomorrow. He finished his last day of pre-K at the sweet little Lutheran school that he has attended for most of his life a couple weeks ago. It has been a great year for him...Harding has learned and grown so much. He is ready for kindergarten, but I'm not sure I am.

Since she was three weeks old, Shelby has been a part of our state's Early Intervention Program for children with special needs. Early Intervention has provided Shelby with a service coordinator (Molly) and three phenomenal therapists; Beth (PT), Adam (OT), and Alisa (ST). I first spoke to an Early Interventionist on the phone when we were driving two-week-old Shelby home from Duke Children's Hospital after she had recovered from her initial shunt-placement surgery. I remember wanting badly to just get my baby home, pretend everything was "normal", and shut out all of the worries and fears that surrounded Shelby's medical diagnosis. I did not welcome that initial phone call from EI because it was yet another reminder that nothing had gone as planned for our daugher and that we had no clue how she would develop. Needless to say, I was not keen on complete strangers coming to our house regularly to evaluate and work with Shelby and our family.
Surprisingly, these "strangers" have become a part of our family. When the only answers we received from doctors were "we'll have to wait and see", Beth (and later Alisa and Adam) would come to our house weekly with ideas and support and hope. Molly, Beth, Alisa, and Adam (and some others along the way) have seen us through so much over the past three years. I can't thank them enough! I also realize how fortunate we are to have Shelby in this day and age where there are so many programs like EI that support children with special needs. I don't know how people used to do it!

Another blessing for Shelby (and me) in the past three years has been the Early Head Start program that we were fortunate to get Shelby in to. Shelby started going to school there for half a day when she was six months old. It was so hard for me to trust her with other people, but it was worthwhile. When I had to go back to work teaching full-time when Shelby was fourteen months old, I felt so comfortable leaving Shelby in the capable hands of Ms. Tara, Mrs. Marilyn, and Mr. Eduard at the preschool.

Shelby graduated from Early Intervention when she turned 3 last week and is now part of the school system. I have dreaded this transition for a long time. We met last week to finalize Shelby's IEP (individual education plan). Shelby has been placed in a wonderful Head Start classroom at a nearby elementary school. Her new teacher is actually certified for teaching special education AND the visually impaired. Shelby will be receiving physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech at her new school.

While it is bittersweet to leave the familiarity of the kids' old schools and teachers (and some of the therapists), I am so excited about what is to come for them next year. The best news of all is that Harding and Shelby will be at the same school. This will be incredibly convenient for Trip and me, and it makes me happy to think that their classrooms are on the same hallway. But until mid-August, we've got summer to enjoy!